The Green Guide has published the results of its annual Green Schools survey, and the results show that a number of elementary, middle and high schools around the country are taking innovative steps in curriculum development, building construction and maintenance, and community involvement. The criteria set for the program involve not just the usual suspects of recycling programs and non-toxic cleaning products, but also LEED certification for buildings, campus green space, procurement and transportation policies, and electricity from renewable sources. In each case, schools seem to recognize that “going green” isn’t simply about providing a healthier, cleaner environment for learning, but also teaching students about the natural world and their relationship to it. The top ten schools in terms of ranking (there are actually eleven) are:
- Punahou School (private), Honolulu, HI
- The Willow School (private), Gladstone, NJ
- Desert Edge High School (public), Goodyear, AZ
- East Clayton Elementary (public), Clayton, NC
- Conserve School (private), Land O’Lakes, WI
- Ross School (private), East Hampton, New York
- Michael E. Capuano Early Childhood Center (public), Somerville, MA
- Clackamas High School (public), Clackamas, OR (tied for 8th place)
- Washburn Elementary School (public), Washburn, WI (tied for 8th place)
- One World Montessori (private), San Jose, CA (tied for 10th place)
- Sonoji Sakai Intermediate School (public), Bainbridge Island, Washington (tied for 10th place)
Congratulations to all of these schools, and the administrators, teachers, staff members and parents that contributed to creating green institutions for students! It’s very good to see that schools around the US are taking the initiative to incorporate sustainable practices into almost every element of their environment.
Of course, a survey like this also shows us how far we have to go in terms of making schools places where the environments are most conducive to student learning and empowerment. One doesn’t have to look too hard at this list to see the woeful lack of urban schools (two others did make the next tier), where students often have to settle for the least favorable settings in terms of environmental quality and opportunities for innovative programs. The Green Guide is doing a real service by promoting the successes of schools that have the funding and support to create sustainable spaces for education; we all have to start pushing for these kinds of environments for all students, though. This isn’t just about treehuggers calling for environmental consciousness; rather, it’s about creating the places and practices most supportive of kids in reaching their academic potential. Off the top of my head, I’m not aware of any foundations or organizations trying to replicate such models in districts lacking in money, knowledge or political will — are any of you?